Wednesday, November 30, 2011

And tonight makes 30!

This year I didn't even try at NaNoWriMo, and I utterly failed at NaNoSweMo (even though I know I can knit a sweater in three weeks when I put my mind to it), but NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month)? DONE.

It is little victories like these that I like to rack up. Feeds the self-confidence.

What has this month of daily blogging taught me?

  1. With a little bit of planning, and backlog of finished projects, I can do 30 days without a problem.
  2.  I miss blogging on a more regular basis.
  3. Thinking creatively has led me to a more creative life.
  4. I really should develop some better work habits - I would love to have designated "studio" time to feed my creative side.

I won't be updating everyday, but I hope to blog more frequently than I have been.  So don't be a stranger!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Inspiration Notebook 6

Olive, yellow, mint, and grey-purple.

Vincent Van Gogh, Cypresses 1889
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, NY 49.30

Monday, November 28, 2011


I have been on my Yarn diet for almost a month now, and it feels really good.  I am trying not to think about all the new yarns I want to try, nor about the yarns that are about to be deeply discounted at the shop.  My stash is large and bountiful. It has wonderful variety, and is of high quality.  It is enough for me.

It is easy to be sucked into a psychotic state when on a Cold-sheep yarn diet.  All those little scraps are so tantalizing - just a few yards to use up - but I am trying to keep my focus on the full skeins most of the time.  That being said, I did have two half-balls of Stonehedge Fiber Mill's Shepherd's Wool in my stash, and I decided that they needed to be worked together in a pattern I couldn't resist.  Since Shepherd's Wool worsted comes in 100 g / 250 yard skeins, half balls are actually consequential.

I carefully weighed the remaining balls, and it looked like I had what the pattern called for, or so I thought.  Somehow my calculations were off, and I have run out of my main color partway through a row.  I can rip back, but I would have to take out 6 rows, plus a short-row wedge. Sigh. So I am going to have to work some cheater magic and then cast off a bit prematurely.  Because I am not buying a 250 yard ball of yarn to use about 10 yards on a project that was supposed to use up 210 yards of yarn.

250 - 10 > 210

Math was never my strong suit (well, not until Algebra II & Trig), but I know the above equation is spot on.  This is how stashes are built, yard by yard, until you have enough yarn to keep you busy for eleven years, or to the end of your life, whichever comes first.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Not so patient

New window feeder at the Yarn Lab window.

Sometimes it takes a while for the birds to find the feeder. Dulce doesn't like the wait.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Low-end Antique Mall

There are two antique malls I like to frequent in my general area.  One is well-run, with dealers who know what they are selling.

The other? Not so much:

At the "other" Antique mall I saw two old swifts, one was tagged as a Weasel, but it didn't pop or count in any way that I could tell - so I am guessing both were swifts. And I also saw a fairly bedraggled single-treadle Saxony style spinning wheel missing its flyer, drive band, and the attachment between the footman and the treadle. I didn't try to identify the wheel to see if replacement parts would be readily available, but at $125.00 it could find a good home and be a useful wheel again.

Friday, November 25, 2011

It has been strangely warm in Michigan recently. On our walk yesterday I only needed a sweatshirt and a hat as far as "bundling up" was concerned. Today I wore my Clockwork and a light autumn jacket and I was hot.  It is really hard to get down to some serious knitting when I am still waiting for the weather to cooperate.

It looks like cooler weather may be on the way for Sunday, but tomorrow? Nearly 60 degrees.  And I am headed for an Antique Mall to do some Christmas shopping.  No big box stores for me!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I have knitting in my lap, and glass of wine next to me, and my husband is asleep on the couch.  The dog is passed out on the rug, the cat is busy watching the cardinals on the birdfeeder, the fireplace has a lovely blaze in it, and I am just starting to make our non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner. (Or, making something festive and special that doesn't result in us having turkey for the next 21 days!)

I hope you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.  May you all be safe and happy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Chevron Shutters

Falmouth, Jamaica 2011
Lovely  because they are dilapidated.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ten on Tuesday: Things for which I am Thankful

1. My family. Whether it is my tiny little family surrounding me in Michigan (i.e. P, Zeby, and Dulce) or my parents and sister in Connecticut, I am so thankful I have them in my life. The more I talk to people the more I realize how incredibly lucky I am to have the family I do. P is a wonderful caring, loving husband who loves me unconditionally.  He waited for an unreasonable amount of time for me, and I have no idea why. But I am so thankful that I finally saw what he was offering and realized what it meant. My father is always supportive, my mom is the most patient and loving person I know, and my sister can be depended upon to put the best, most ironic twist on any bad situation so that you have to laugh.  My family has made me a resilient and whole person.

2. My health.  Not always healthy, but very practiced at healing.  My body is covered in scars; a half moon on my knee from learning how to walk, my keloids and other scars from chicken pox, and my most recent addition, a 4-inch surgery scar on the back of my ribcage. I am working on my day-to-day health by eating better, going to the gym as often as I can stand, and running from time-to-time when the mood strikes.  Every night I am reminded how lucky I am to have modern medicine. As a chronic asthmatic I am on permanent medication, and I sometimes worry about post-apocalyptic scenarios.  While other people will be breaking into pharmacies to get methadone, vicodin, or oxycontin, I will be breaking in to stock up on asthma medicine.

3. My friends. I make nice acquaintances quickly, but good friends are only seldom made.  My closest friends are spread out across the country - Austin, TX; Boston, MA; Maui, HI, NYC, NY. I miss them each terribly, and I should really tell them how much they mean to me.

4. My boss. I have always worked for women, but my current boss? Best of them all. Creatively supportive, wickedly funny, and Trouble with a capital "T".  I am often mistaken for her daughter, and when that idea is negated, customers ask if I am a relative. (If you see me with her daughters it is abundantly clear that I am not one of them.) She is a pleasure to work with, and I miss her if she takes the day off.

5. My Job. I used to work someplace else when I first moved to Michigan, and it made me miserable. The endless bureaucracy, the menial labor, the inability to be creative or think for oneself. I believed in the mission of this place, but it was soul-crushing. So I decided to look around at my local LYSs. I had actually received two job offers from two different shops.  One just didn't feel right - and I am glad that my instincts were so fine tuned - because I turned it down. The second came out of the blue, quite literally, and I was so happy to accept a few months later. My job feeds my creativity, and even in the bleak midwinter I can shelve brightly colored wool to battle the effects of a Michigan winter.

6. Knitting. Nothing has given me more comfort in hard times than being able to make things with my hands.  Knitting has given me a community when I had none. Knitting has given me something to do when my husband has had to study and work late. Knitting continues to introduce me to new people and new challenges.  Knitting has led me to both spinning and weaving - crafts that I am only beginning to understand, but enthusiastically embracing.

7. My house. The Little Yellow House (LYH) is so odd and quirky. Too-steep stairs, tiny little rooms, a cozy living room with a smokey fireplace, and the non-winterized "sunroom" with windows from ceiling to floor - the perfect height for a corgi to watch squirrels run around in the backyard. Yes, sometimes it feels like the LYH is going to fall-down around our heads, but I adore it.

8. My green Subaru. Even though I drive its replacement now, (my green Subaru is P's commuting car) I love this car.  It has protected me from two crashes.  Crash #1 was with a large deer or small elk when I lived in New Mexico. I was going 75 mph (the legal limit in NM) and the deer was between me and the sun on a sweeping turn. I didn't see it until it was on my windshield and then rolling down the side of my car.  With a little help from a State Trooper and P, I was able to pull the melted plastic liner from my wheel-well off my tire, and P drove it back to Albuquerque. That weekend P and I had traded cars. I had been driving P's soft-top Mazda Miata for several weeks while P worked in the Four Corners region. Had I been in the Mazda I probably would have been killed. Because of my glorious little green Subaru, I was shaken, but unhurt. Crash #2 happened in Cambridge, one block from my house. It was a T-bone crash with a crazy driver with a canoe on the roof of her car. She must have been texting or something, because she blew through a very dead red.  Poor Subaru - this happened on the same side of the car as the deer.

9. My garden. It is a total mess, and is often neglected, but being out in the dirt and the bugs and the worms seems to feed something in me that is just waking up.  Considering both of my parents are hardcore Gardeners, I consider these feelings a dominant gene that is just being switched on. I get overwhelmed easily, and sometimes I throw up my hands in frustration that I will ever get my gardens looking like ANYTHING. I am assuming at some point I will, because my genes tell me so.

10. My yarn stash.  Yes, it is huge.  Yes, it is sometimes a burden.  I may also have made provisions for it in my will.  But it represents untapped joy (and frustration) that only the creative process can bring.  As money has gotten tighter I have been able to rely on my stash to provide creative nourishment to me.  I am on a yarn diet until April for many reasons.  But this means that I can explore the wonderful yarn that I have squirreled away over the last (gulp!) eleven years.  I could easily go four or five years without buying yarn. But considering I often think about post-apocalyptic scenarios, a yarn diet of that duration will never happen. I need to be useful in a society that needs rebuilding. The ability to make warm clothes from start to finish can only be deemed as truly useful, right?

So there you have it, 10 things that I am thankful for today!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Deep Autumn

I am knitting with a lovely wooly-wool: Imperial Stock Ranch Native Twist. It is luscious and thick in my fingers, and still has traces of the ranch about it in both the vegetal matter I find (infrequently), and the slight scent of lanolin.  As hearty as oatmeal, and it makes me so happy.

Sometimes it is hard to get some knitters to see the virtue of a real honest wool. Not superwash, not merino, not scoured and dyed within an inch of its life. Just a real honest wool. And that is what Native Twist is all about. Honesty. And wholesomeness.

I am so thankful that I have another 7 skeins in my stash for this project, with miles and miles of garter stitch ahead of me. As it gets bigger and bigger in my lap I am enjoying its warmth and marveling at its simple beauty.  It is a soft spun single, a great stand in for Lopi, if you can't locate the real deal (or can't get to Iceland). 

My color? Pearl grey. Un-dyed. Perfection.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rustic Oak Grove Mitts

A few weeks ago I was given a skein of Mountain Meadows Cody in their new natural dark grey color, and I couldn't wait to use it.  Woven Art has carried the natural white Cody for about a year now, and I have heard wonderful things about it.  The yarn was supposed to have a wonderful bounce and spring to it, and I was really intrigued. So I found a pattern and away I went.

Pattern: Oak Grove by Alana Dakos
Yarn: Cody, Mountain Meadows.  Dark Grey. 1 skein, 200 yards.
Needles: US 3
Mods: A few.  For the bind-off on the thumbs and around the top I used the tubular cast-off because it is beautiful, simple, and stretchy. I also flipped the final cable twist at the top of arch for one mitt so that they were a mirror image of each other. I also picked up 4 stitches and knit a garter stitch strap to help pull the fabric tight across the wrist.

My straps are a little uneven. Oh well.
I love this yarn so very much.  It is rustic, but soft and springy.  It is a "meaty" sport weight - I think it could probably be used as a DK for some patterns.  Cody also is lovely for projects that need good stitch definition.

It is my understanding that Cody is available in 4 natural colors; natural white, light grey, medium grey, dark grey.  There are also gorgeous kettle dyed colors that will be coming into the shop sometime soon. It pains me that I am not buying yarn until April 2012 - I really want to try some colorwork with this beautiful yarn that comes from sheep raised in Wyoming.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Winter in mid-Michigan is not for the faint of heart. Grey skies move in and settle for nearly 5 months.  It is the prospect of 5 months of gloom that have me checking airline flights to the desert southwest for some sunshine therapy.  Hell, I will even consider Phoenix, I am THAT desperate.  That, and the dwindling prospects of both our green chile supply and our Frontier tortillas could only lead to further depression. I won't make it through this winter without green chile stew.

Today's gloom was illustrated during a photo session for a future post.  There was barely enough light to generate enough contrast to show off some cable/fancy work. Really?  I am so glad I bought my first crate of Clementines a few days ago. It will be non-stop citrus fruit from now until April.

I really shouldn't drink when I am noticing these things. But the wonderfully strong Dragon's Milk from the Holland Brewing Company (Holland, Michigan) is a favorite.  And my friend took me to the local dive bar in my neighborhood for the first time, even though P and I have lived in the house for FOUR YEARS.

Ok, time for a big glass of water and some shut-eye. The cat is beginning to harass me which means it is past her bedtime.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Inspiration Notebook 5

Grey, white, orange, black.
Sean Scully, Gabriel 1993
Col·lecció d'Art Contemporani, Fundació ''La Caixa'', Barcelona

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Winter is certainly coming now.  It snowed for several hours today - none of it stuck.  I watched it all as I cleaned the upper floor of our house - the bedroom, closet, bathroom and my Yarn Lab.  Some of these things I did WAY before I got involved in Project 333, some of these tasks were just reinforced by living in that disciplined way.  Here are a few things I regularly do with the changing of the seasons.

1. Move the past season's clothes into the seasonal closet, pulling out anything that I wish to discard, donate, or repair.

2. Empty off shelves and wipe them down. Consolidate garments by like kind, refold and stack.

3. Dust all lights - with the winter gloom upon us I need every tiny watt of light I can get.

4. Go through my bedside table, remove items that shouldn't be there. Vacuum the drawer clean and make sure the following is in there: small pill bottle of advil, my asthma inhaler, the charger for my Kindle, my Kindle and its handknit cover, a lovely scented moisturizer, a nail file, chap stick, my sleeping mask, and my nutrition book.

5. Go through my exercise drawer and get rid of socks with holes, stained t-shirts, and put away all swim suits except for my lap suit.

6. Clean off the top of the bureau - put away jewelry that I won't wear in the winter.

7. Clean out medicine cabinet. Check for expired items, and put toiletries in their correct spot. Travel items go in their travel bags under the sink. Nail polish get rotated out for winter appropriate colors, and old polish that is gummy gets tossed. Ditto with makeup. Replace my summer moisturizer with winter moisturizer.

8. Make sure both sides of the bed have a box of tissues.

9. Refill Q-tips and cotton pads.

10. Clean nail and cuticle tools with rubbing alcohol.

11. Vacuum the cat's chair, and the mattress on our bed.  Put flannel sheets on the bed.

12. Go through summer shoes; throw out worn-out shoes, pull shoes I wish to donate, and all summer sandals get packed in the seasonal closet.

Yarn Lab
1. Get everything off the floor and vacuum everywhere.

2. Put skeins away in their appropriate tub. I have a general system: Tub 1: sweater quantities of yarn. Tub 2: Cottons. Tub 3: DK, Worsted, and Aran skeins of wool. Tub 4: Lace, Fingering, and Sport skeins of wool. Tub 5: exotics: camelid, angora, possum blends, silks. Sock yarns go in a zip bag that comforters are sold in.

3. Magazines get organized in magazine holders.

4. Gather random stitch markers from every surface and put together in a jar.

5. Identify and pull skeins/scraps that I wish to donate, put with other Goodwill items.

6. Get all music CDs back in their jewel cases and into their box.

7. Books go back on bookshelf in my own organizational system. Basic catagories: Reference, Socks, Lace, Colorwork, Cables, Thematic books, Yarn collections.

8. Put birdfeeder on the window.

9. Clean the cat's bed and return it to the center of my desk in front of the window (in front of birdfeeder). (If I move it she complains bitterly, then sulks in her old spot.)

10. Put away my teaching notes from past classes - each class has a file, swatches, etc. Make sure notes for improving each class are tucked into each file.

11. Put away handouts I get from classes that I take along with their swatches.

12. Identify and consolidate scraps I want to keep for swatching design projects or class swatches.

13. Put yarn for upcoming projects on open shelving unit. Should always include one sweater, one fingering weight project, and two hat projects.

14. Put all buttons away that may have gotten pulled out and strewn around while trying to finish a project.

15. Put all needles together, then size them and put them in the pendaflex folder. Ditto with crochet hooks.

When I am done with all these things I feel like I am ready for winter.  Everything is snug and clean and in its place.  I am not flustered with clutter or an over abundance of things that are not relevant to the season I am living in.  I have a few things left to tick off on this list - that will happen this weekend.  But I am happy with my surroundings in my snug little house!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Shop Model: Pembroke Wrap

At the end of the summer I got to knit a Pembroke Shawl as a shop model for Woven Art.  The shop carries Imperial Stock Ranch Bulky 2 strand, a wonderful unspun "yarn" that comes in large cakes.  You must work from the outside in with these cakes because the fiber is so unspun it will just separate.  It is a lot of fun to work with, although I would be careful if you are a tight knitter, because it won't stand up to much tugging.

Pattern: Pembroke Wrap by Andrea Rangel. Interweave Knits Magazine, Fall 2011
Yarn: Imperial Stock Ranch Bulky 2 Strand, 2 cakes, primrose.
Needles: US 13
Mods: None!

Blocking was a little hair-raising. I was dually afraid of both felting the yarn and having it come apart in my hands if it got snagged on my wedding ring.  I very carefully soaked it, then pressed it to a damp state between two towels. Then I laid it flat to dry and pulled it into shape. I didn't pull out the points during blocking, but I may just re-block it to get the scalloped edge.

If you are not familiar with Imperial Stock Ranch I HIGHLY recommend knitting with their yarn.  The Bulky 2 strand is unusual in its un-pun, cake-y state, and still has traces of the Ranch about it.  I have knit another one of their yarns and love that just as much.  It really should be better known than it is!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Elizabeth Zimmermann: Striped Mitered Mittens

I am having a great time finishing up some of my long-languishing UFOs.  Right before Jury Duty I hit a bit of a lull in my knitting. I had just finished up a biggish project (not yet documented here) and wasn't feeling the love for something entirely new. So, I rummaged through my ziplock bags of abandoned projects until I found the mittens.

As I found them, one mitten was done except for the afterthought thumb.  The little stitch had been cut and the unraveled stitches were on needles, but that was it. I quickly finished the thumb within an hour.  Then I weighed my finished mitten and the two little balls of yarn to confirm that I had enough yarn to make a second mitten (because, honestly, if I don't have enough yarn, why bother??).

I did have enough yarn. So I cast on for the second mitten, and several hours later I had my second mitten done except for the thumb. Instead of just shoving the project back in the bag, I immediately cut the stitch for the afterthought thumb, and started working.

First mitten: 1 year, 1 month
Second mitten: 1 day


Pattern: Mitered Mittens by Elizabeth Zimmermann, Knitter's Almanac, May.
Yarn: SWTC, Karaoke in grey and purple-blue, 1 ball each.
Needles: US 7, magic loop, DPNs for thumbs.
Mods: Striping! Each of my stripes is 6 rows tall.

So happy these are done.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Inspiration Notebook 4

Yellow, greens, and purple greys.
Euphemia White Van Rensselaer by George P.A. Healy. 1842
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY 23.102

Sunday, November 13, 2011


My love of zig zags has reasserted itself in herringbone.  I just can't seem to shake my obsession with the wonderful rhythm of the pattern. I have a pattern lurking around in my head that I want to get down on paper and start knitting. I even have the yarn in my stash, thank goodness! One of the great advantages of a large stash.

This beautifully hand-dyed yarn is older than my marriage by one week - I got it at the Taos Sheep & Wool Festival in October 2005.

Hand dyed by Carol Mullens, NM. 2005

Looking through some of my 2010 travel photos I found this one from Bruges that I love so much.

Herringbone Bricked window, Bruges, Belgium. 2010
I also happen to see the pattern every morning in my bathroom - I had my shower tiled in herringbone pattern when we renovated the second floor of our house. It makes me unreasonably happy considering it is just tile work!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Kaikoura Beach, November 2009

Sunrise, Pacific Ocean, Kaikoura, New Zealand 2009
It is hard to believe that two years ago P and I were in New Zealand taking our much delayed honeymoon.  We stood on this black rock beach at Kaikoura and watched the sun rise over the Pacific Ocean.  If I were to emigrate to any where in the world, it would be New Zealand without a doubt.

There are places that speak to us, softly, and pull us in. And never really let us go.

Friday, November 11, 2011

11.11.11 Poppies

Zeby and I both wore poppies at work today, the pattern can be found here. Thanks to Laura Chau for making the pattern available.  Excuse the bad phone pictures - the red is really off here. The sweater I am wearing is actually a rusty brown color, just as a means for comparison.

I used sock yarn leftovers held doubled instead of aran weight.  The red is Creatively Dyed Yarn Steele from my sister's Christmas socks from a few years back. The other is Madtosh Sock in Fig, which is actually a brown, but still looks fantastic against the near-florescent red of the petals. Each flower took about 30 minutes to make.

Because Laura made the pattern free with the hopes that knitters would make a donation, I made a donation to the American Legion in memory of my great-uncle Gus who was killed in action in WWII.  He died a year before my mother was born, if my research is correct.  I know next to nothing about him, only that he died and was buried in Europe and was the last male heir of the line. My grandmother, his sister, died when my mother was a young woman, and with my grandmother went the memories of Gus that would have been passed down through the family.

I know Gus isn't forgotten, though.  He has one remaining sister and I am sure she is thinking about him today.  And so am I, an unknown, never dreamed of grand-niece.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Last stash acquisitions

A few weekends ago I indulged in my last fiber festival of the year - the Ann Arbor Fiber Expo. It always lands the weekend after Rhinebeck.  This means three things.

1. I am a bit strapped for cash
2. I am completely unwilling to wait in lines.
3. I am yarn-jaded.

The advantage to waiting one week - I had scheduled to teach classes all that week!  I put my hard-earned bills in the back of my wallet where I normally don't keep anything, and just kept adding to what my mom would call "mad money" until there were actual bills to count and sort.  

One of the many wonderful thing about AAFE is that there are no lines. At least, not at the booths I was shopping.  I went down on Sunday morning (worked at my LYS on Saturday) and headed straight for the booth I had to tear myself away from last year.  (I was on a strict no-sock-yarn diet.)  Happy Fuzzy Yarn has really beautifully dyed yarn, and, lo! I was no longer jaded.

Happy Fuzzy Yarns 100% BFL in Shadow, 5 mini skeins (~50yds a piece)
 I love this color blue - it is the color of a very cold Atlantic ocean in January when you are freezing your face off on the beach. In some lights it is nearly black, in others blue and green and grey. Perfect!

Happy Fuzzy Yarns 100% BFL in Rust, 1 mini skein (60 yards)
And a skein of Rust - one of my favorite colors ever. I remember having a pair of rust-colored corduroy jeans when I was a girl (in the late 70s to early 80s you could find such colors for little kids) and they were my favorite!  I was thought to be a little weird at school when I was asked what my favorite color was. "Rust!" I replied. And then when I saw kids' faces.  "...and blue!" Ah, yes. Much more normal.

Fingering, 75% wool, 25% nylon, colorway Tiger's Eye
Tiger's Eye is a beautiful skein that spans blacks, opalescent browny-purples, heathery-tans, golden-browns and yellowy-creams. I have no idea how it will knit up, but I am intrigued!

Finishing up at AAFE, I got to meet Humphrey the camel, but by the time I got to the back of the last barn I was out of money. And I merely enjoyed watching kids feed him bits of hay while their mothers looked at Humphrey's fiber.

The last stash-addition to my year. Lovely!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Autumn rushing in

It is almost time to dig out the flannel sheets. There is a chance of snowflurries tonight along with a wind advisory. Winter is not far away now.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Jury duty

Eighteen months ago I was selected for two Jury trials in Lansing. One was a homicide trial scheduled to take about 3 weeks. Thanks to P's profession, I was finally excused from that Jury. I was immediately put into another pool that landed me a two-day sexual assault trial.  And then this August I received another summons for my local district court.  Apparently the Jury Duty grace period in Michigan is 1 year.

I was originally summoned to report for Jury Duty back in September, during one of the busiest times of year at the shop. I was easily able to reschedule my service, much to my amazement.  My new summons was for today, and I dutifully went to East Lansing district court at my designated time - 12:30pm.  I checked in (no security!), was handed a sealed envelope with my 1/2 day's pay in it, and took a seat. I cast on for a sock, and prepared for the long wait. I put my knitting down during our orientation, and for the entire voir dire. Mercifully, I was not picked this time.

And, here's the thing. I was out by 2:30. I was totally not prepared for this.  And so my Jury Duty sock looks like this:

It's a Jury Duty toe. With Rhinebeck yarn from 2009 - Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock lightweight in Guppy.

And guess what? I don't have to call, report back, or get put into another Jury Pool. I am done. For one year.  What a relief!

If I get summoned again I hope it is to my little East Lansing district court.  On their website it states: "It is recommended that you bring something with you that you can do quietly while waiting, such as a book, knitting, newspaper, or crossword puzzles." Government approved knitting. Besides, the court is just one block from the yarn shop!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Botanic Hat

Some time ago P lost the hat I knit for him. We have looked for it everywhere, and it has not reappeared.  And so it needed to be replaced.  Last year he started law school (while still working part-time as a medical doctor) and so he rides his bike to school a few times a week throughout the fall, winter, and spring.  He needed something warm, especially for his ears. Michigan's cold weather is not kind to ears.

Pattern: Botanic Hat, by Stephen West. Version with large brim.
Yarn: 1 ball Ella Rae Classic Solids, brown. 1 ball Stonesthrow Farm Vintage VI (from Rhinebeck 2010) in an autumn variegated.
Needles: US 6 & 7
Mods: none.

I really should have used a softer yarn for the band.  Ella Rae is a great hard wearing yarn for outwear, and it felts like a dream (hello, spit-splicing!), but it is perhaps a bit too scratchy for skin-contact.  And I may have built up my immunity against scratchy yarn. Ah, well, it was a stash buster.  I will try soaking the hat in some Eucalan, and maybe some hair conditioner and see what happens. I wouldn't mind knitting this hat again if I can get through the 6 inch brim.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Inspiration Notebook 3

Walton Ford, Tale of Johnny Nutkin 2001
hardground and softground etching, aquatint, spit-bite aquatint, and drypoint

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Denim & Copper Jeweled Cowl

I found another project that never got documented this summer!

Pattern: Jeweled Cowl by Sachiko Uemura, a free pattern on Ravelry
Yarn: Our Humble Castle Shalom in New Jeans, fingering weight superwash BFL & nylon, 405 yards
Needles: US 7
Mods: I kept knitting until I almost ran out of yarn (about 44 repeats), then I bound off!
Beads: 8/0 hexagon 462D oiled gold beads.

This skein of yarn was a test skein from the dyer - a local knitter & dyer in the Lansing area - who wanted to find out if she wanted to bring the base yarn into her stable. It was a very enthusiastic YES from me!  The yarn is lovely - it has that wonderful BFL hand to it, with extra strength from the nylon. And it obviously likes to soak up dye! As soon as I saw the color of the yarn she wanted me to test I knew EXACTLY what color beads I wanted: copper - like rivets on old-time Levi's.

yarn color is more accurate in the first picture, but bead color is accurate here!
I purchased the beads locally at T&T Trading Co. out in Grand Ledge, Michigan.  I think they are getting accustomed to me walking in with a big hank of yarn and spending a good hour pouring over their selection of Japan seed beads. Inevitably I walk out with more beads than I need, which I am sure is just fine with them, and surely saves me gas money in the long run.

Another fun project. And I should have some beading tips soon - how to use the crochet beading method when your beads are too small for your hook!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Fantasizing about Closures

Well, that title should get me some interesting hits.  I have been home sick for the last few days - and in fact, have been sick on and off for two weeks. It is a very good thing that Mucinex DM is non-habit forming, because I have been living on the stuff.  I wish I could be back at work but when you provide customer service all the time, coughing like a TB patient is not attractive and probably not good for business.

So. I have been finishing up projects here and there. Currently I am ribbing my brains out on a little short sleeve cardigan.  Because I modified it to fit me I was giving some serious thought to how I want the cardi to close.  Being big busted makes those casual open-cardigans slightly impractical.  The fronts just don't lay correctly when there is a lot of terrain to cover and no way to lock things down.  So I started thinking about large coat hooks & eyes like these to make the front edges meet up. Then I wouldn't have to do a buttonhole.

But then I got to thinking about seeing Andrea a few weeks ago.  She is a rep for a number of lines, but in this case, she reps for Jul.  She showed me the new Jul french curve closures.  They are leather paired with the brilliant pedestal button so that you can close just about anything WITHOUT a buttonhole or sewing. Oh glory be!

JUL product catalogue page
My sweater is a beautiful rusty color in Plymouth Tweed 5313, which now appears to be alarmingly discontinued.  Really? These are the colors Plymouth are keeping? Are they HIGH?*  Ugh. Guess I better finish this puppy up fast if I need an extra ball. There aren't THAT many left at Woven Art.

So I am trying to figure out, do I want the chocolate, black, or chestnut French Curve? (I am not a patent leather kinda girl, so that is out.)   I think the chocolate might go best, but that chestnut gives me heart palpitations. Am I the only one who had a thing for Oxblood Docs back in the early 90s?  Loved them so much. Be still my heart.  So my guess is actually the chocolate might go best, the black would be the most practical (boring!), and the chestnut might make me incapable of looking away from my own front for any length of time.

What are your thoughts?

*Apparently not high, just discontinuing the yarn. Double ugh.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Inspiration Notebook 2

Alex Katz, Big Red Smile

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pearl Grey Kusha Kusha Scarf

Apparently I have been holding out on a project that I thought I had documented back in July.  Oops!

I have wanted to do a Kusha Kusha scarf for several years - basically since I realized I had access to Habu yarn at Woven Art (before I even worked there!). I didn't want to buy a kit mostly because I wanted to replace the Habu Fine Merino Wool with something a little thicker. Above were the three color choices I came up with. The three balls are Classic Elite Silky Alpaca Lace, paired with the Habu Silk & Stainless Steel cones.  After much hemming and hawing (and a Facebook consultation) I decided on the middle color combination.

The pattern is very easy - and is a great introduction to the Japanese style of pattern writing.  Not entirely intuitive, but once you get the hang of it, it is no big thing.

Pattern: Kusha Kusha Scarf, kindly available on the Purl Bee website
Yarn: 1 skein Classic Elite Silky Alpaca Lace, 460 yards, 2 small cones Habu Silk and Stainless steel in grey
Needles: US 3, 4, 6, & 8.
Mods: I lengthened my scarf a little bit through the area of the scarf where you hold yarns A & B together.  Before felting the scarf measured 60 inches long, with a 43 inch section of yarns A + B. After felting the scarf measured 50 inches long with a 38 inch section of yarns A+B. I wish I had bound off with the size 8 needle, but I think I used the 4. 

The last section is quite challenging - knitting with just the tiny Silk & Stainless steel yarn on size US 3 needles? Yeesh.  It is hard to maintain tension. I found I had a much easier time just giving up on tension and just knitting.  This also could have been just project fatigue - I was really ready to be done with it. 

I lightly hand felted the Silky Alpaca in my kitchen sink. I may felt it a little bit more, but I enjoy seeing some stitch definition.

This was NOT a stashbusting project - I bought both yarns and I have a good portion of my second cone of the silk & stainless steel left, plus a nice bit of Silky Alpaca remaining as well. Maybe I will swatch with these to come up with another project.  Although I REALLY want to knit another Kusha Kusha scarf with Elemental Affects  lace and Habu Copper Bamboo. Sigh.  But I am back into working on my stash for the winter, so no new yarns for me for a while.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Inspiration Notebook 1

Greens, yellows, & browns with a bit of orange
Van Gogh, The Church at Auvers, 1890
Musee d'Orsay, Paris

Orange, brown, & periwinkle/grey
Gustave Baumann, Cottonwood Tassels 1943

Gold, chestnut, & black
Fayum Mummy Portrait, 2nd century
Dark plum, gold, jewel tones, and pearl.
Empress Theodora mosaic, 6th century
Basilica of San Vitale